Help pages

Contact us

If your question isn’t answered here, or you just wanted to let us know something about the site, contact us.

Get involved

Become a volunteer #

mySociety's aim is to empower people everywhere to become informed and active citizens, able to fully participate in shaping the decisions that impact their lives, contribute to flourishing communities, and hold power to account wherever it may lie. Running the public Freedom of Information service WhatDoTheyKnow is one of the key ways in which we seek to achieve those aims.

We are always looking for new volunteers to help us work towards a fairer society by assisting with the day to day running of the service

If you have a passion for transparency and a bit of spare time, consider joining WhatDoTheyKnow's volunteer admin team, or helping out with a specific project.

From answering the hundreds of user support emails we receive each month to helping resolve legal issues and keeping our public bodies database and requests states up to date, there is always plenty to do.

We are also always keen to find people that can help shape the direction of the service, contribute to research to promote good use of the site or craft blog posts for us.

As a volunteer, you'll receive the training you need, and if you join the admin team you'll be invited to join our regular team meetings and be involved in our decision making process.

We don't ask for any specific time commitments from you and you can carry out volunteer tasks at any time we are just grateful for whatever help you can give. Everything operates online and via video calls, so you can do all of this from your own space, with no travel commitments. All we ask is that you keep us up to date with how you are getting on via our email and/or chat channels.

Current Projects #

As well as our traditional multidisciplinary volunteering opportunities, we're currently developing some structured roles for key activities:

  • FOI database administrator
  • FOI content researcher
  • FOI help desk administrator

Keep an eye out on the mySociety jobs page to be notified and apply in our next batch of recruitment.

We are also working on updating some of our site information. We need people to help us research and find contact details for some authorities. You could also search WhatDoTheyKnow for your local area and make sure that we've got all the authorities listed that should be. This kind of activity makes up a vital part of our work to ensure that our information is up to date to enable our users to continue making requests.

Other volunteering opportunities #

If the opportunities listed above don't sound quite the right fit, we'd still like to hear from you.

Let us know a bit about what interests you, how you'd like to help and what experience you have (don't worry if that's 'none'!) and we'll try to find something that matches your skills.

You can get in touch by using our I'd like to volunteer contact form.

General tasks #

Be an active member of the WhatDoTheyKnow user community.

If formal volunteering is not for you, there are still plenty of ways you can help us run the site

  • Help us identify successful requests so that everyone can see the state of the request.

    You can do this through our categorisation game

    It's really helpful to categorise requests, but if you want to provide even more value, you can keep your eyes open as you go along.

    • You might notice some really interesting information that has been received, which we could write up in a blog post
    • Perhaps you'll pick up on the performance of certain authorities — it's always useful for us to be aware of which are responding well or poorly
    • Or you might find some content that breaks our house rules, let us know about this by using the “report this request” option on the request page.
  • We always need help with promoting the good use of WhatDoTheyKnow. If you spot one of our requests being quoted in a news article or on a blog then you can add a citation to the request. This helps us all to see how the information has been used.
  • You might choose to write a blog post about WhatDoTheyKnow, or an interesting request that you've found yourself, and we'd love to hear about that if you do. You can let us know using the contact form (add link to contact form page)
  • You can help other users by adding annotations with advice to requests where people may be struggling to get the information that they have asked for or with some links to similar information that may help them,
  • If you spot that we are not listing a public body, then let us know
  • If you've found WhatDoTheyKnow useful, then simply telling your friends, colleagues or perhaps your local newspaper or community magazine about our service and your experience can help us to spread the word so that more people know about us.
  • And for those more technically minded, if you have seen something that could work better and you're a coder, get the source code for our parent project Alaveteli and send us a pull request. WhatDotheyKnow is coded in Ruby on Rails.

Other ways that you can help #

Make a donation #

We know that your time is very precious and not everyone has the opportunity to volunteer.

You can help us instead by making a donation.

mySociety, WhatDoTheyKnow's parent organisation, is a charity. WhatDoTheyKnow, our most-visited site, costs thousands of pounds each year, for overheads such as servers, maintenance and development.

Your contributions, however small, really help. Donate here.

Changes #

We keep these pages under review, and may make changes from time to time to ensure that they remain up-to-date and accurate. You can find a synopsis of changes we’ve made at our GitHub repository but if you have any questions, please do contact us.